This month, we’ve been considering the ways in which books can help us experience new worlds. We can explore other cultures, landscapes, life experiences, ideas, and identities through reading! In honor of #NationalComingOutDay today, we are celebrating those identities. Here are some ways we can continue to celebrate differences, appreciate uniqueness, encourage self-expression, and foster empathy for others:
- Encourage kids to stand up for themselves and others. It can be hard for children to feel safe to express themselves. It’s important to confront social attitudes that may hinder free self-expression; cliques, bullies, and the status quo can be intimidating. Talk to students about how they can combat cycles of bullying in all its forms. World Book’s Anti-Bullying Basics series is a great place to start!
- Value individuality. Adults should encourage every child’s unique talents. By finding worth in what every child brings to the table—be it their perspective, academic strength, artistic flair, humor, sensitivity, or athleticism—we can encourage students to keep pursuing what they enjoy and set a good example for other students to see value in individuality.
- Help students find similarities. The most important way in which we can foster empathy is to emphasize that, at our core, we are all much more similar than we are different. Encourage students to find those similarities when they encounter differences; framing their understanding in this way creates compassion.